What is Purpose Driven Advertising

Great product and engaging advertising campaigns are no longer enough. Competition is tough in almost every industry and you’re no longer fighting just for the attention of your customers, you’re fighting for their hearts and minds as well.

The best way of doing this (both for the company and your community) is to join forces with your customers over a worthy cause. Of course, many companies are already supporting various charities, but they’re not used to creating advertising content around these efforts. Purpose driven content advertising does exactly this – helping both the cause and the company.

Defining the cause

First, you need to know what your brand stands for, and what kind of charity causes it represents. Naturally, this can be almost anything – if you believe something or someone is worth investing in – it’s up to you to raise awareness about the issue. It can be something that stems from your work (for instance publishing company can donate some of its books to public libraries), but it can be much broader than that. Another way of choosing your cause is talking to your customers. Find out what issues are important to the community around your company and join in.

Spread the word

Remember it’s not enough to do charity work – your marketing strategy should be centered around it. Your customers should know that by purchasing your product or using your service they are also giving back to the community. Besides usual ads, promotional materials such as cause-focused branded shirts, hats or coffee mugs are a great way of promoting your work. Your ads and promotional materials should show how your company is helping the cause (especially how a customer is contributing), but they should also explain the cause further and give the public a chance to get involved beyond your work.

Focus on the people

Social problems are always a product of various forces and usually have roots far back in history. Explaining all the intricacies of the issue can be difficult and cause some controversy (because not all the people involved see the problem in the same way). The best way to avoid this and create a powerful campaign in the process is to focus on the people affected by the problem (and therefore the people your work is helping). Tell a human interest story and people will listen.

Get involved

Sharing part of the profit with the organization you’re supporting is just one step. Get your employees in on the cause as well. Leading by example is always the best way to show you care (for instance if your supporting efforts to recycle or be environmentally friendly in other ways – your office itself should go paperless or organize a carpool cut back on CO2 emissions. Working on a project should be a group effort, not just an accounting issue. Letting your customers know (and inviting them to join) on this kind of work can (and should) be done with subtlety and class.

Keep the commitment

The best purpose driven marketing is not the one based on new and viral trends (although more on that later), but the one based on long term commitment to the causes that are important both to yourself and to your customers. Stay loyal to the charities and organizations you support. Seeing your brand grow together with these causes is something you can’t really put a price on and it’s also something your customers and clients will greatly appreciate.

When to react to trends?

In the age of social media, every now and then, some issue or a cause suddenly gets in the center of public attention. There’s really no way to know how and why something becomes viral. Usually, it’s the way it’s presented, but there are basically no rules (the internet has a will of its own).  Naturally, there’s nothing wrong in joining this trend and reacting to them in a timely manner, by offering short term sponsorships. Just remember that this can sometimes seem exploitative, so think carefully before jumping in.

Purpose driven advertising is gaining ground lately and for a good reason. It’s a way for customers and corporations to give back to the community and promote their work at the same time.

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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